Supreme Court allows sanctions on 'Kraken' lawyers who challenged Michigan's 2020 election

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday let stand sanctions against 'Release the Kraken' attorney Sidney Powell and other lawyers for abusing the court system with frivolous challenges to President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Michigan.

The court rejected appeals from Powell, Lin Wood and five other lawyers allied with former President Donald Trump. It did not offer any comments on why it was rejecting the appeals from the former Trump lawyers.

The lawyers facing sanctions spearheaded a legal effort to award Michigan's Electoral College votes to Trump despite his loss in the battleground state.

A district judge called their suit a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” and imposed monetary and disciplinary sanctions.

A fizzled vow to 'release the Kraken'

During an appearance on Fox Business on Nov. 12, 2020, amid a firehose of false claims that the presidential election had been stolen from Trump, Powell alleged that massive voter fraud had been “organized and conducted with the help of Silicon Valley people, the big tech companies, the social media companies and even the media companies.”

“I’m going to release the Kraken,” Powell added, a quote from the 1981 movie "Clash of the Titans" that refers to a giant sea monster. The line quickly became a satirical catchphrase for baseless allegations of 2020 voter fraud.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld most of those sanctions against Powell and the other lawyers.

The appeals court said many of the lawyers’ allegations of fraud, particularly those involving Dominion voting machines, were refuted by their own evidence. Other allegations were based on “facially unreliable expert reports” or were just “simply baseless.”

Sidney Powell is a lawyer who served on the Trump campaign. Powell allegedly pushed conspiracy theories that Dominion Voting Systems changed votes from Trump to Biden.
Sidney Powell is a lawyer who served on the Trump campaign. Powell allegedly pushed conspiracy theories that Dominion Voting Systems changed votes from Trump to Biden.

In their appeal to the Supreme Court, the lawyers argued the sanctions will “chill legitimate election challenges.” They also charged Democrats with trying to “marginalize political opponents and destroy their counsel.”

Wood, who has argued he did not work on the lawsuit and was not included in all of the sanctions, filed a separate appeal.

Lawyers for the City of Detroit, which was awarded legal fees for having to defend itself against the election fraud allegations, said the suit was part of a broader effort to delegitimize the election results and prevent the peaceful transition of power.

“Any attorney with the slightest understanding of Michigan election law and procedures had to know that these claims were destined for dismissal,” the city's lawyers told the Supreme Court. “There is no First Amendment right to file frivolous litigation.”

In addition to owing $132,810.62 to Detroit, the lawyers were ordered to pay $19,639.75 in legal fees to the state.

David Fink, a lawyer for the city, said he hopes the sanctions will discourage similar litigation abuses in the future.

“We are now focused on guaranteeing another fair, safe and secure election in 2024,” Fink said.

Powell is also one of Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia election conspiracy case. She pleaded guilty last fall to a half-dozen misdemeanors over efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in that state.

Contributing: Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court allows sanctions for challenge to Biden's Michigan win